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National Model Design Code

Back in July, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities announced the National Model Design Code, new legislation to provide detailed guidance on the production of design codes, guides, and policies to promote successful design. It expands on the ten characteristics of good design set out in the National Design Guide to meet the characteristics of good design set out in the National Planning Policy Framework, which reflects the government’s priorities and provides a common overarching framework for design. Moreover, the guidance in the National Model Design Code expands on this and sets out detailed and specific guidance based on the characteristics of context, movement, nature, built form, identity, public space, and use for a proposed building site.

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out the government’s economic, environmental and social planning policies for England. The framework applies to a variety of local and neighbourhood topics such as housing, business, economic development, transport, and the natural environment, with its policies influencing the decisions on planning applications.

The NPPF introduced the presumption in favour of sustainable development which means that development that is sustainable should be approved without delay. There are three pillars of sustainability (social, economic, and environmental) and the Framework contains a number of sections that, taken as a whole, constitute the Government’s view of what sustainable development means in practice. Design Codes are important because they provide a framework for accessible, inclusive and sustainable environments. What may be relevant for an inner city structure might not be in a rural area.

Direct Access can help organisations to develop their own design code drawing on national and international codes and best practice. We have extensive international expertise in developing design codes, including:

  • Rural Access Guide for Bethel, a town in rural Vermont, United States
  • Expo Design Guide that pulled together key features of British Standards with the Dubai Universal Design Code for all Architectural and construction firms to follow at world exposition Expo 2020 Dubai

In the UK, we work with established standards such as the Accessible Stations standard from the Department of Transport, and our director, Steven Mifsud MBE, was involved in the consultation and design code development for the revision of the current BS8300 standards, setting the national standard on how buildings should be designed, constructed and maintained across the UK and ensuring accessible and inclusive environments for all.

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